Several states held high-profile political primaries on Tuesday. In Florida, Kendrick Meek won the Democratic nomination for Senate with 57 percent of the vote, and will go on to run against Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist. Polls show Rubio and Crist head-to-head with Meek a distant third. The tight Republican gubernatorial primary in Florida yielded a close victory by Rick Scott, who won with 46 percent of the vote to Bill McCollum's 43 percent. In Arizona, John McCain won the Republican nomination for Senate with 56 percent of the vote and is projected to soundly defeat Democrat Rodney Glassman. The Republican senatorial primary in Alaska is still undecided, with incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski locked in a too-close-to-call race with Tea Party Republican Joe Miller. The New York Times has up-to-date information on the major House and gubernatorial primaries from Tuesday. Here are five key lessons of the primary elections.
- Incumbents Must Run Negative Campaigns NBC News' Chuck Todd predicts that the "McCain playbook from last 100 days will be copied by incumbents of ALL parties. Go negative early&often is only path of survival for them."
- Coherent-Sounding Candidates Are 'Suspect' The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder looks at the loss of J.D. Hayworth, who some observers had suggested once had a very real shot at unseating GOP Senator John McCain. "J.D. Hayworth was a wannabe insurgent who was toppled by his own arrogance. He was too smooth for a year where anyone who sounds like a politician...really, anyone who sounds fairly coherent and talks in crisp, reasonable-sounding, consultant-approved sound bites...is suspect, particularly for Republicans."
- Tea Party-Palin Wing of GOP Wields Big Influence Slate's David Weigel asks, "how Joe Miller, a lawyer who has never won an election, is currently leading Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in a primary she seemed to have in the bag. Didn't Murkowksi have all of the money? Weren't Miller's rallies pretty listless affairs?" Two reasons: First, Miller got substantial Tea Party money. Second, "Measure 2, a parental consent ballot initiative, brought out pro-life voters who have never trusted Murkowski. Sarah Palin's early endorsement also handed Miller credibility and media attention which, in a GOP primary, was more important than Palin's increasing unpopularity in the state."
- Mixed Picture on Anti-Incumbent Sentiment The New York Times' Damien Cave appraises, "[Murkowski] is battling for re-election in a political season in which another Senate incumbent, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, lost a primary after switching party affiliation to Republican from Democrat, setting off fears that a tide of anti-incumbency would spell doom for sitting lawmakers. The [still-contested] Alaska results contrasted with other races around the nation Tuesday in which established politicians managed to easily prevail."
- Anti-Immigration Positions a Win With GOP Voters Hotline's Jamie Shufflebarger looks at the close Florida gubernatorial Republican primary. "[Narrow victor Rick] Scott gained a foothold in the race by taking a hard line on immigration, quickly embracing AZ's immigration law and calling for a FL version. [Opponent Bill] McCollum, who initially questioned the law, was accused of flip-flopping when he eventually came out in support of it. This pattern was repeated several times, as Scott drove McCollum farther to the right as the race progressed."
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